Our garden has begun to sprout.
This week we’ve watched basil, cucumbers, and okra seeds transform into tiny sprouts that will grow into food-producing plants. I always get excited when I see sprouts. Its like Mother Nature is telling me that I’m not hopeless or clueless gardener.
After all these years, I still question my ability to raise cucumbers from seeds sown directly into the ground. I know it sounds silly. But I don’t hold any faith in the notion that you simply spread a few seeds and they’ll come up — even though that’s how it works. Gardening isn’t supposed to be that matter of fact.
Right now, most people would giggle at the site of our garden. Everywhere we’ve planted something, you’ll find a chopstick or a canning ring marking the spot. I’ve done that for a couple of reasons. First, we don’t plant seeds in rows. Because we’re planting in raised beds, there isn’t a need for rows. Most of the time we use a checkerboard grid, pushing the limits on how many plants can reside in a small area. Second, the chopsticks and canning rings also deter me from confusing okra sprouts from weed sprouts. Finally, our raised beds are full of soil fresh from the compost pile. It never fails that the beans from last winter’s vegetable soup will sprout right in the middle of radishes. So chopsticks and canning rings help me keep things neat and organized — at least until everything is big enough for me to clearly see what it is.
I believe that seeds need encouragement and a little prayer to spring into life. They need someone waiting for them — cheering them on. From the day we plant our seeds, I start watching and praying. Every afternoon, when I arrive home from work, I walk out to the garden to see what’s changed from the day before. I’ll pull a few weeds. I’ll check to see if anything needs watering. I’ll look to see if any of the seeds have sprouted before I go inside to help cook dinner.
Our garden is a tiny space with four raised beds; three are 4 x 12 wooden frames that surround a stacked stone feature built by our son, our nephew, and our ‘adopted’ niece a few years ago. The stone bed’s shape is somehow related to a Pokemon or Zelda jewel — I don’t remember, but I love it because they built it.
From the four beds, we grow just enough vegetables to eat fresh produce, rarely do I preserve any of the food that we grow. The garden is just too small for that. Instead, we love harvesting dinner. Every once and a while, we consider removing the raised beds and tilling up the ground in order to expand. Goodness knows, we’d harvest a lot more food. But our tiny little garden doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, so we wouldn’t be able to grow everything we want. Besides, we love shopping at our local farmer’s market. If we expanded the garden, there wouldn’t be a need to go.
After each tiny sprout pushes its way into the world, I’m there to welcome it. After all, that tiny sprout is now apart of our family and deserves to be noticed on its birthday. I guess its silly, but I like bonding to the plants that are going to produce food for my plate. I believe in being there from day one.